Point Blank (2010) / Thriller-Action
aka A bout portant
MPAA rated R for strong violence and language
Running time: 84 min.
Cast: Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Elena Anaya, Gerard Lanvin, Mireille Perrier, Claire Perot, Moussa Maaskri, Pierre Benoist, Valerie Dashwood, Virgile Bramly, Nicky Naude
Director: Fred Cavaye
Screenplay: Fred Cavaye, Guillaume Lemans
Unrelated to the 1967 classic American film of the same name by John Boorman starring Lee Marvin, France's Point Blank kicksoff with a fast-paced and deadly foot chase that centers on one man (Zem, 36th Precinct), shot in the abdomen, running for his life from (then) unknown assailants who chase him into oncoming traffic where he suffers in a collision that lands him near death in a local hospital in Paris.
He ends up in the care of a male nurse-in-training named Samuel Pierret (Lellouche, Love Me If You Dare), who becomes the unfortunate patsy to an unknown kidnapper who has put Samuel's wife, Nadia (Anaya, Van Helsing), and unborn child for ransom in order to secure the release of the patient, who has already survived one attempt to take his life and is closely guarded by the police. What follows is a race against time to secure the patient, later revealed to be a professional safecracker named Hugo Sartet, to his freedom, while on the run from crooks and cops alike out to get them.
Point Blank is taut and mostly unrelenting in its pace during short 84-minute run time, a facet which is in its favor, as thinking too much between action sequences would have many in the audience unable to believe the sometimes ludicrous motivation of some of the characters. However, the core of the thriller, which puts a man in a position of having to save his beloved wife and unborn daughter by any means necessary, is something that does generate the peril and dire nature required to see how such a meek and unassuming man could have the fire lit under him to commit the most dangerous deeds imaginable, including leaping across perilous heights, threatening and perhaps killing anyone who might stand in his way.
Director and co-screenwriter Fred Cavaye delivers adrenaline from the outset, and keeps the breakneck pace without losing the audience to the implausibility inherent in the plot. Cavaye's first film, known to international audiences as Anything for Her, had been remade by Hollywood as The Next Three Days, starring Russell Crowe, and the sensibilities of this film, which also features a man willing to do anything to save a damsel in distress, would suggest Point Blank could easily translate to mainstream American audiences with a remake as well. The style of the action is somewhat reminiscent to The Bourne Identity in terms of its immediacy in the field of battle, fine locale work, the jumps and falls into and out of high-rise windows, the quick-edit foot chases, and the viciousness of the sometimes brutal hand-to-hand brawls that occur on a regular basis.
As for the actors, Lellouche plays his part as the everyman well, similar in appearance and demeanor to Liam Neeson (whose Taken is like a not-too-distant cousin to Point Blank), instantly connecting as the ordinary man pressed by extraordinary circumstances to be the hero, though completely confused as to what the right thing to do is and whom he can trust. Zem is effectively dubious in his intentions and fits just fine on the borderline between malicious criminal and sympathetic anti-hero. The weakness here, as it is with many thrillers, is the MacGuffin, which involves a USB drive containing incriminating details of those behind the assassination of a rich and powerful man, something that the two men on the run end up taking the blame for in the press, Hitchcock style (though Hitch knew better than to actually reveal the contents for reasons that become all too clear when you see Cavaye do it.)
At 84 minutes, it's a compact action-thriller chase flick meant to give viewers an edge-of-your-seat experience that is economical enough to sate those not looking for a deep, meaningful experience. It's fast food to be sure; for those who need to consume something quick and tasty, Point Blank hits the spot.
©2012 Vince Leo